Lord Ashcroft has published a new batch of constituency polling. I hesitate to call it marginals polling, since we’ve moving up into some less marginal territory with today’s polls. Ashcroft has polled four different groups of seats in this set (all the tabs are here.)

The first is the next cohort of Lib Dem -v- Conservative marginals, this group are those seats with a Lib Dem majority of between 9% and 15% over the Conservatives, so we are no longer looking at ultra-marginals. The average swing from the Liberal Democrats to Conservatives in these seats is 2%, nowhere near enough to win seats like these. However, as we’ve seen in previous Lord Ashcroft polls of Lib Dem marginals there is an awful lot of variation between individual constituencies – some seats (Carshalton & Wallington and Thornbury & Yate) are actually showing swings from Con to LD. At the other end of the scale two seats are showing large enough swings for the Conservatives to win the seat (North Devon and Portsmouth South, which has a chunky 9 point swing from LD to Con, presumably at least partially connected to the scandal around Mike Hancock).

The second group of seats consists of two more Lib Dem seats with Labour in second place. Lord Ashcroft’s previous polling in LD v Lab seats essentially showed a complete Lib Dem collapse, raising the possibility of an almost complete wipeout for Liberal Democrat MPs where Labour was the main opponent. One of the seats here – Burnley – follows that pattern, with a ten point swing from LD to Lab. The other, Birmingham Yardley, represented by John Hemming, bucks the trend. There is still a 2.5% swing from LD to Lab, but it is smaller than we’ve seen in other LD -v- Lab seats and would be small enough for Hemming to hold on.

The third group of seats is two unusual seats – the close three-way marginal of Watford, and Wyre Forest, an Independent seat between 2001 and 2010. Neither of these really fit into any broader category, but looking at them as individual seats Watford shows little relative movement for the three main parties – all are down a little, UKIP are up a lot but still in fourth place, meaning the Conservatives retain a narrow lead. Wyre Forest was held by Dr Richard Taylor between 2001 and 2010. He’ll be standing again come the next general election for the National Health Action party, but I think under the same Kidderminster Health Concern label that he won on in 2001 and 2005. Ashcroft’s poll currently has the Conservatives holding the seat on 32% with UKIP in second on 27%, Labour 16%, Lib Dem 7%, Green 5%, Other 13%. The others aren’t identified in the poll, but is presumably largely Dr Taylor’s supporters.

Finally Ashcroft polled three of the four seats that will be contested by the main party leaders come the election – Sheffield Hallam, Doncaster North and Thanet South (presumably he didn’t do Witney because he thought it would be too boring… it would seem there comes a point when even Lord Ashcroft saves his money!). Party leaders normally do pretty well in their own seats. It is extremely rare for them to lose their own constituency and they very often outperform their party nationally. Such is the collapse of Liberal Democrat support however people have seriously raised the possiblity of Clegg losing his own seat – Ashcroft’s poll has it very close. Clegg is on 31%, Labour on 28%, just three behind (and this is on the question prompting people to think about their own constituency, the standard voting intention question had Labour a point ahead). Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat is traditionally a very safe Labour seat that should pose no concerns for him, but there was some speculation about how well UKIP might do. The BNP have held their deposit there at the last two elections and their was some significant support for the English Democrats too, with the far-right parties now collapsing and UKIP hoovering up that right-wing protest vote it looked as if there could be some potential. In fact Ashcroft’s poll did find UKIP in second place in Doncaster North, but 12 points behind Ed Miliband. Finally Thanet South, the seat where Nigel Farage plans to stand at the general election. Current figures there are CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 29% – so UKIP in a strong second place, but not currently quite enough to send Farage to Westminster.


529 Responses to “Ashcroft polls of the Lib Dem battleground and leaders’ seats”

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  1. @Old Nat

    To misquote William Dunbar:-

    “Be blyth and blissfull, burgher of Aberdein”!

    And we’ll see thee anon.

  2. I’m wondering…the topline numbers (with DK/Ref reallocated according to prior vote) are a good deal different. At this point (with the LDs doing so titanically worse than in 2010 and UKIP doing better), how much are those weightings actually worth?

  3. Ok, let me rephrase the above: The topline numbers with and without the weighting by past vote are a good deal different in some seats. In cases like this (particularly where it causes a bias towards the LDs, since the collapse there has been catastrophic in many places they aren’t incumbent) how much weight should we give the weightings?

    [How much weight should you give the weightings and the reallocations are very different questions. Weighting and re-allocating don’t knows are very different things! Unweighted figures should be completely ignored (pollsters assumptions about weighting targets could in theory be a little wrong… but that wouldn’t mean completely unweighted figures would suddenly become meaningful. They are not), whether the old assumptions driving reallocations hold true is a different and more pertinent question – AW]

  4. Labour lead at 2

    Latest YouGov / Sunday Times results 28th November – Lab 34%, Con 32%, UKIP 15%; LD 7%, Greens 6%, SNP 5%

    RE: Dave C immigration speech

    I think if the Cons were going to get a boost from this, they would have needed headlines shouting their approval from The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express. These are the papers where there are a lot of UKIP readers.

    I don’t think I am seeing that. More a sort of sniffy approval of OK, but not nearly enough and of course the stuff about Germany vetoing some of the measures, would have a gone down like a lead balloon.

    Underlying Lab lead of 1 to 2% maybe

    The economic questions pretty much unchanged and so is the question

    How do you think the financial situation of your household will change over the next 12 months? -17% (Better 16% Worse 33%)

    Cons +18% Lab -34% UKIP -36%

    The within usual range of 2014 with the usual cross breaks – lower optimism from C2DE, and in northern England and Scotland

  5. Gray

    The LDs have a habit of retaining incumbent seats. They retained Eastleigh despite the LD MP going to Prison!

    They will be beaten in some of their seats, no doubt especially against strong Labour/SNP opposition, but retain others where the opposition is weaker and/or tory. I think they will take a leaf out of Labour’s 2010 campaign in Scotland – Ignore the party leader and talk about very local and/or personal issues.

    The election will agin show how systematically flawed the first past the post system is now in the era of 4/5 parties. I could see the LDs getting say 12% of the vote and keeping 35 seats, while UK get 13% and potentially only get two. Ironically this will be the first election ever where FPTP benefits the LDs!

  6. Candy is right. No business in their right mind will invest if it perceives any kind of shortage of labour. Likewise inflation creates too much uncertainty about what the business will get as it’s real ( post inflation) returns. If you know inflation will stay in the 2-4pc range this is not so bad. If the range is 15-25pc, forget it. This is why the 1970s were a relative failure.

    Also despite what it says in textbooks, it is a bit misleading to think of “labour” and “capital” as substitutes. Better to think of alternative systems of production. And forget about loads of robots too. Humans will always be far more flexible and adaptable. Eg. The driverless tube will not be able to tell me the quickest way out in the event of a fire.

    Personally I am happy with DCs speech. Iits much better to say: here are some basic rules (benefit eligibility, minimum wage) and we will enforce these properly rather than arbitrary stuff which tries to favour one group over another or set unenforceable caps and targets.

  7. Obviously, in my penultimate sentence UK should read UKIP

  8. Not that great for the LD. If they get 10% they might reasonably argue for anything up to 60 odd seats. I think they/we will get 25-30.

  9. At some point if fuel prices stay at current levels – over 10% lower than their peak – there should be a benefit for the Governinng parties (or at least the Tories) as more disposable income and lower delivery costs (and in some cases input costs) help keep inflation down.
    Maybe they have already and without this factor their poll ratings would be lower?

    Ironic that the choices made by a fuedal, virtually thoecratic country may impact on our GE more than any amount of noise from our own political class.

    I am assuming, it is the Economy Stupid of course.

  10. Candy etc,

    I remember having a discussion with a Dutch colleague from my former copmpany many years ago.
    He basically said that high social costs drove technology and was better in the long term.
    In my industry, Recycling, UK operators employed large numbers of largely EU migrant workers to do the sorting (and very good workers they are too) whilst Dutch counterparts invested far more in optical sorting systems and such like.

    FWIW – we operated in France, the difference between there and the Netherlands was that France erected Barriers to Entry, sometimes cultural, and ‘back-door’ protectionism so they had high social costs but did not invest as much as the Dutch as the latter had to to surivive whilst the former was protected.

    So imo – France and UK wrong, ND right – very crudely of course there will be many nuances and exception such as perhaps car manufacturing.

    This is what saddens me about 13 years of Labour more than anything else.
    The preferred method of dealing with relatively poverty was financial transfers which was necessary imoo initially but little was done about transforming the long term skills base of the country and increasing genuine investment.
    It may be that because employers in some industries could access cheap labour esp after the first wave of EU migration (largely from Poland) it would have been tough but I think insufficient effort was made.
    There is a genuine problem for Labour should it take power.
    I like Predistribution as a concept but cheap labour undermines the long term action necessary to impliment it to a degree.
    Living wage programmes are important and valid but without long term productivity gains eventually they will become unaffordable.

  11. Yougov Scotland..cross break. + seats

    SNP….44%…42

    LAB…31%….11

    CON…16%…2

    LIB…3%…1

    GRN..3%

    UKIP….3%

    Quite a high VI for the SNP and Labour and today’s cross break looks very similar to the Holyrood 2011 result for the FPTP seats.

    ………………….______________________………………………

    Good luck OLDNAT and Haste Ye Back!

  12. Correction Labour = 14.

  13. JIM JAM
    “There is a genuine problem for Labour should it take power.
    I like Predistribution as a concept but cheap labour undermines the long term action necessary to impliment it to a degree. Living wage programmes are important and valid but without long term productivity gains eventually they will become unaffordable.”

    Problem or challenge? Given stated intentions to lift both wages and investment, where do you see a gap in the means adopted to achieve long-term productivity gains?

  14. John – because the availability of cheap labour discourages business investment as per Candy’s posts. (Not just here but in other countries who compete with us)
    Challenge is far better word, though, I agree.
    Just to be clear John, I am a lefty and believe Government intervention in the those markets that are failing because of capitailst distortions are not only possible but necessary.

    The problem is, however, that Governments have bad track records at planning and as far as possible should restrict themselves to setting framworks and taking measures to encourage economic behavious considered socially desirable as expressed through the ballet box. (ie who people vote for)

    The ‘Challenge’ therefore is to increase real dispoable incomes for
    lower paid workers (then average earners) and encourage investment whilst not moving at a damaging pace.
    Genuine markets are better imo than Goverments at responding to changing Economic condiions and harnessing thhe vibrancy of markets with Governments responsibility to see beyond the next business cycle is not easy!!

  15. There is not going to be a driverless tube anytime soon. It turns out that Boris Johnson’s driverless tube trains are the sort that have drivers. The vast majority of Paris Metro trains have drivers. In London, it is very likely that the driverless tubes would still be staffed like on the DLR. []

    It makes more sense to read specialist blogs like londonreconnections than to trust what politicians and their spin teams say.

  16. By anytime soon, Londonconnections reckons that there will still be tube drivers well into the second half of this century and that in the short to medium term the numbers will go up due to tube extensions and service increases.

  17. @Jim Jam

    I am interested in on the recycling business in Holland.

    Until recently I worked for a business that purchased PET, and in recent years manufacturers have moved from UK sites to move production to the continental sites.

    I also worked closely on projects developing the use of rPET (recycled PET), and the quality of material from Europe was way better than the junk material from the UK. The UK stuff was full of nasty contamination, including mixed colours and non-food grade plastics.

    In short, it is the equipment invested in auto-sorting, as well as the superior supply of material to recycle that gave non-UK sites the edge.

  18. JimJam

    Had we followed the Dutch model, then my cousin who works as a recycling sorter would be out of work.

    Personally, I think that technological advances that means that work no longer pays will fundamentally change capitalism in the same way industrialisation did. Don’t ask me to predict how, but the money go round would have to be sustained if paid work stops being effective.

    I also suspect that morality may change. In the same way that antibiotics and contraception allowed changes in personal morality (by reducing the risk of pregnancy and VD), having a disconnect between work and economic success may change attitudes to work. By which it may be seen in pragmatic terms, but not moral in its own right. Calvinism may be become as out of date as chastity is today for most people.y.

  19. Lurker,

    The Dutch have by and large managed to have less low paid jobs coupled with better training etc to mean that they were not mssed.
    The answer is not simple which is why I accpeted John’s better word challlenge.

    CMJ – the UK Government made the mistake of constructing targets around volumes recycled (recovered) rather than value and enocourage single stream co-mingled collections with the contamination issues you raise from LA (kerbside) generation.

    Conversley, in paper streams from industrial sources the UK has generally cleaner material as the customer dictates in the long-term.

  20. JIM JAM

    @”Ironic that the choices made by a fuedal, virtually thoecratic country may impact on our GE more than any amount of noise from our own political class.”

    Why is this any different to the impact they have had on our daily lives for decades, in the cost of running our cars & buying so many different products.?

    Perhaps we should applaud the intervention of the USA & Fracking in breaking this global stranglehold-however temporary that turns out to be.

    On the subject of national budgetary sensitivity to oil price , there have been some very interesting numbers in the papers. You can see how countries like Venezuela, Iran & Russia must be hurting as market prices plummet below $70 b-when they “need” well over $100.
    Saudi cost of production is reported at under $10 !-they have time & money on their side & cannot seem to fail in a market share war.

    I see reports of North Sea developers talking of uneconomic deposits .

    Still , this plus UK’s supermarket wars are increasingly providing GO with a ready response to Labour’s Cost of Living Crisis :-)

  21. Jim Jam

    I would like to see a move away from a low wage, low productivity economy (at least we are not as bad as India in that respect) but I fear it isn’t going to happen. It isn’t going to be paid for even under austerity lite, and will require a major change in attitude towards the value of education in this country.

    The other problem is that even more skilled jobs are likely to be automated with advances in computing and robotics. We are still at a relatively primitive stage in this field compared to what is coming.

  22. Anthony-how can I get rid of the intrusive sound adverts which now appear when UKPR is viewed ?. The Tab shows a “sound” symbol when they play, but I can see no means of “deleting” the ad via this symbol.

    This is unlike many visual adverts which have options for deletion .

    Whilst writing this I have received three different spoken adverts !!

  23. Anyone with annoying sound ads, I use Bluhell Firewall (a free add on to Firefox).

    I’ve never had a problem with Ads since.

  24. JIM JAM
    Agree, Governments don’t do economies – but they do enable them, e.g. by – to strengthen your case – putting in place structures for skills development linked to enterprise and financial measures. This is as much Kenneth Clarkian, and Tarzanian as Labour, viz. TECs etc. To address the current challenge, among immigrant communities – ho hum – to provide discriminatory language and vocational skills support, and more generally to provide a mix of wage level, technical training to degree level accreditation, and apprenticeships as a condition of employing already experienced and skilled EU8 migrants competing with UK first entry job seekers.

  25. Colin,

    You are right and I wasn’t complainging that it may benefit the Government as much acknowledging the possible implications.

    Politics often requires luck.

    Clinton and Nu Labour benefited from the emergence of China as a low cost producer and on-line sourcing shopping enabling living standards to grow in the west without any significant productivity improvements, for example

  26. @Candy

    History lessons don’t change the simple fact that you *cannot* increase prosperity with cheaper labour. If you could do that all the poorest countries in the world would be the richest.

    If there’s x people and y stuff then increased prosperity (stuff per capita) requires either fewer people or more stuff which is another way of saying you need either
    – more output from the same input
    – or the same output from less input

    or in other words you need technology and innovation that leads to increased productivity to create prosperity not cheaper labour that leads to decreased productivity. Cheaper labour on its own is makes you go backwards.

    (Obviously this doesn’t guarantee prosperity as there’s the distribution to consider as well however increasing productivity is a necessary condition for increasing prosperity.)

    Importing millions of people who are below the median contribution line cannot increase prosperity. You can’t even maintain the existing level of infrastructure unless you tax the people above the line more.

    Not only is this logically obvious in itself it is doubly obvious now that places like California provide glaring examples of how one of the most prosperous places on earth can be turned into Mississippi over 60 years.

    And triply obvious if you clear away all the fluff around race and ethnicity clouding immigration and say instead that all the western countries should clone and double the DE part of their population to improve the economy – sounds really silly when you say it like that doesn’t it?

    It’s obvious nonsense but it’s nonsense that greatly benefits the small number of people who lobby for it.

    #

    “Labour shortages fuel inflation. As the labour market tightens, wages are bid up…”

    Yes. This is what drives technology and innovation. It is a good thing.

    “This is what happened in the 1970’s.”

    No, what happened in the 1970s was the unions short sightedly resisted the (long-term) benign cycle of

    higher wages -> technology -> higher wages -> technology etc

    I can understand why they did it – it was their job to do it – and I can understand how people at the time might have decided on various nasty ways to get around the problem but now is now.

    Using mass immigration to break the unions at least had a logic to it even though I don’t agree in that it was a logical response to an existing problem but the idea that cheaper low-skilled labour is good for an economy in itself is total nonsense.

  27. @Candy

    “Poland and the Eastern Europeans joined in 2004 in the middle of a global boom.”

    Also, it was a credit bubble not a boom. Cheap credit is as equally deflationary long-term as cheap labour and should be equally restricted.

  28. @Dieselhead

    “No business in their right mind will invest if it perceives any kind of shortage of labour.”

    Hence shortage of labour driving innovation.

    And as innovation is the *only* long-term source of increased prosperity that is a good thing.

    Neutral should be able to see the problem:

    1) employers want a labour surplus because it is good for them short-term

    2) unions want a labour shortage because it is good for them in the short term

    but what either wants short term isn’t good for the country long term.

    In the 70s the unions had the upper hand so we had the consequences of the problem in that direction and since the 80s the employers have had the upper hand so we now have the consequences of the problem from that direction instead.

  29. The ideal policy for long-term prosperity is

    a) maintain a slight labour shortage
    b) encourage innovation

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